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Editor’s Note: This delightful article by Sally Lloyd-Jones appeared during Story Warren’s first year, and I think it’s high time we re-visited.
The independence being celebrated today is, of course, independence from the likes of me (Brits).
Excuse me but first of all, what is a Brit doing posting on Independence Day? I know. It’s terribly cheeky but I didn’t do it I was pushed Sam made me do it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way and know it’s all his fault (and where you should direct all complaints)…
When I first came to the States, I visited a revolutionary battle site and saw their film and was shocked to realize half way through that I was the enemy. I’d never thought of myself that way. (I’m not sure any Brit has to be honest. I mean we drink tea—how bad can we be?)
What makes it slightly more complicated is: I’m also an American citizen. So in effect I am celebrating independence from myself.
But then again, it’s got me thinking—isn’t that kind of the whole point, what our life is ultimately all about? Getting free of ourselves?
Small children are famous for saying, “I do it MYSELF!” even as they flail about hopelessly trying to do something impossible—determined to have no one help them. Even if it takes 10 times as long. Even if they are going to hurt themselves. They just want to prove they don’t need anyone.
We laugh. How funny they are.
But are we any different? Don’t we basically say that every morning to our Heavenly Father? When we don’t talk to him? When we don’t spend time with him? When we rush headlong into our busy days and lists? When we worry instead of going to him? When we shut others out? When we don’t ask for help?
I was in San Antonio last month and saw this group of young black guys standing in front of a black and white billboard. The billboard showed the city at the turn of the century. But when you look at the photo you kind of can’t tell where the past ends and the present begins. As if the veil had been peeled back for a moment to show us all who came before.
I’m only here because of those who went before. I’m only here because of grace. So in what sense is it even possible for me to “do it all by myself”?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
How do we tell where God’s strength ends and ours begins? Whatever I have is his gift to me; whatever I can do is from his hand; wherever I go he has gone before.
Besides. Why ever would I want to “do it by myself”? When I have the maker of the Heavens and Earth as my Father—and all the treasures of the universe are in his hands? When he has put me in his family—and given me brothers and sisters so I don’t have to do it alone?
What am I trying to prove?
I need other people. And I need God.
So this Independence Day I’m going to be celebrating independence… from me—and dependence on Him. The Mighty God. The Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Who takes me in his arms, who gently leads me all through my life—from beginning to end.
My God who himself teaches me how to walk with him, and leads me along by the hand.
…I myself taught my people how to walk, leading them along by the hand.
Hosea 11:3 (paraphrase based on NLT)